Lyme disease, science, and society: Camp Other

Sunday, April 17, 2011

5 One way to treat Borrelia naturally?

Many Lyme disease patients have used antibiotics for treating Lyme disease and other tickborne coinfections. They have years of scientific study behind them and many reports of patient improvement come from doctors and specialists - patients have had a lot of success with them.

But sometimes antibiotic use leads to various side effects, digestive problems, and potentially, undesirable secondary infection with C. difficile. Using probiotics can often help with digestive problems and prevent C. difficile, but it is not guaranteed.

In some cases - due to allergies or intolerance of the side effects - patients have to stop antibiotic treatment. Because of this, patients have opted at some point in their treatment to stop taking antibiotics after a while and switch to alternative treatments such as herbs.

Whether a patient decides to use antibiotics or herbs, one thing on the horizon seems certain: Eventually antibiotic resistance will lead to more restrictive use of antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance may challenge patients' ability to treat some of their own infections.

However, there is one completely natural possibility that might treat Borrelia and some other tickborne infections in the future which is rarely mentioned in the west other than as a curiosity - yet everyone in the world is surrounded by this abundant and prosperous source of healing from nature all the time.

Much as there are different probiotic bacteria are found in yogurt and probiotic supplements that Lyme disease patients take -- there are viruses in our environment that are helpful to us.

A lot people think of a few things when they hear the word "virus": they think of H1N1 or the swine flu, colds, herpes, HIV, and meningitis, for a start. Not good things. But like the probiotic bacteria that we consume in yogurt all the time, viruses are also present in our environment - in our food, our soil, our drinking water, and our own digestive systems.

Like adding probiotic mixes to your yogurt, these helper viruses have been approved by the FDA to be sprayed on the surface of cheese across the US in order to prevent the development of the bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes, from causing serious disease in pregnant women,  immunocompromised people such as cancer patients, and those with immuno-deficiences. Thousands of people can be severely sickened by Listeria and in some cases even die. So the use of these viruses in food such as cheese is beneficial.

In addition to providing protection from harmful bacteria in food, these helpful viruses have also been used to help save baby calves from dying of diseases which cause severe diarrhea and prevent salmonella from colonizing chickens.

The method for treating these cases was find out which bacterial strains the animals were infected with in order to find the viruses which would eat them. Then use these viruses just as they are found in nature, with no genetic engineering required - put the viral material in pills, injections, or lotions in order to treat the infection.

So this leads one to wonder if this all-natural, non-GMO treatment which is low-cost compared to antibiotics and so abundant in nature can kill off bacterial infections in animals - why can't they kill off infections in people too?

Well, they can.

Watch the next two videos, paying special attention to the first video.

The first video is a 48 minute BBC documentary on the use of viruses to kill bacteria, also known as "bacteriophage therapy" in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, in the Eliava Institute of Tblisi.

Note that if the institute seems run down, filming was done after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the hospital just came out of a civil war - thus buildings had poor maintenance, but the technology to use bacteriophage therapy was in place and used. (After a period of economic instability and social problems - followed by the Rose Revolution - Georgia and Tblisi have been doing much better in the past several years.)

So this documentary is a little dated but general principles remain the same - it explains very well what bacteriophage therapy is and how it has been used in Europe for over 60 years through the 1990's (it continues to be used today - more on recent research using phages will be posted this week).

Youtube (3 parts)

BBC Horizon - 1997 - The Virus That Cures

This second video is from Canadian television as well as CBS news and is more recent - it contains two clips back to back about two people who were treated with phage therapy and their results. Don't miss it - the results are amazing when you realize the initial prognosis each patient was given.

Case studies on phage treatment plus Evergreen College, 
Washington State phage research - [Time: 9:26 minutes]

Is bacteriophage therapy this effective? Does it have any pitfalls? Why don't we hear more about it here yet, given the rising number of cases of antibiotic resistance to deadly bacteria such as MRSA? What can it treat so far? How can this treatment help Lyme disease patients in the future? Here's just one more video just to get a different angle on it from Australian news (Channel 7 and Channel 9). It talks more about history, plus business investments and projections for human trials...
The Forgotten Cure - on Sunday Sunrise, Channel 7 - 
plus a short clip on phages from Channel 9
More on this later this week - for now, check out the videos and let me know what you think, including your own questions and concerns about this kind of medical treatment. [CO note: Continue reading part two of this series, "Phage Therapy and Borrelia burgdorferi".]


  1. ***Why don't we hear more about it here yet, given the rising number of cases of antibiotic resistance to deadly bacteria such as MRSA? **

    Well, I'm sure that one of the reasons MIGHT be is because the evil AMA doesn't want it to be known. :)
    And perhaps that's true------ it may also mean that development in the US is still ongoing and might become more prevalant in the future? And perhaps the 'engineered viruses' being developed in the US are more amenable to being patented. (Do I smell Bay-Dohl?)

    (From Wiki, so read with care:)

    A monograph written by Nina Chanishvili

    "A Literature Review of the Practical Application of Bacteriophage Research" was published in 2009, in Tbilisi, Georgia.[12] The monograph gives the most thorough analysis of the results on phage therapy according to the data given in the old Soviet scientific literature.

    The first regulated clinical trial of efficacy in Western Europe (against ear infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa) was reported in the journal Clinical Otolaryngology in August 2009.[13] Meanwhile, Western scientists are developing engineered viruses to overcome antibiotic resistance, and experimenting with tumor-suppressing agents.[citation needed]. One potential treatment currently under development is a phage designed to destroy MRSA. [14]

  2. In August, 2006 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved using bacteriophages on cheese to kill the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, giving them GRAS status (Generally Recognized As Safe).[17]

    In July 2007, the same bacteriophages were approved for use on all food products.[18] Government agencies in the West have for several years been looking to Georgia and the Former Soviet Union for help with exploiting phages for counteracting bioweapons and toxins, such as anthrax and botulism.[19]

    There are many developments with this amongst research groups in the US. Other uses include spray application in horticulture for protecting plants and vegetable produce from decay and the spread of bacterial disease.

    Other applications for bacteriophages are as a biocide for environmental surfaces, e.g., in hospitals, and as a preventative treatment for catheters and medical devices prior to use in clinical settings. The technology now exists for phages to be applied to dry surfaces, e.g., uniforms, curtains, even sutures for surgery.

    Clinical trials reported in the Lancet[13] show success in veterinary treatment of pet dogs with otitis.

    (One should read the list on the above site, for there's more information regarding advantage/disadvantage there.)


    1 There are no internationally recognized studies that prove the efficacy of phages in humans.

    2 The great specificity of phages is a disadvantage when the exact species of infecting bacteria is unknown or if there is a multiple infection.

    3 Bacteria can also become resistant to phages.

    4 Bacteria have a type of ‘immune system’ that destroys the hereditary material of some penetrating phages. Only suitable phages can conquer this ‘immune system’.

    5 In comparison to chemical molecules, phages are relatively large. For this reason, the sites in the body that can be reached by them must be carefully clarified.

    6 Infections whose agents are hidden in the interior of human cells may be inaccessible to phages.

    7 Phages that are injected into the bloodstream are recognized by the human immune system. Some of them are quickly excreted and, after a certain period, antibodies against the phages are produced by the body. For this reason, it appears that one type of phage can only be used once for intravenous treatment.

    8 In comparison to chemical molecules, phages are complex organisms that can transfer toxin genes between bacteria.

    9 The shelf life of phages varies and needs to be tested and monitored.

    10 Phages are more difficult to administer than antibiotics. A physician needs special training in order to correctly prescribe and use phages.



    1 Phages are very specific and do not harm the useful bacteria that live in and on the body.

    1 Phages are very specific and do not harm the useful bacteria that live in and on the body

    2 Due to their specificity, phages do not cause a selection of resistances in the useful bacteria that live in and on the body.

    3 We are constantly ingesting phages. In general, they are harmless to human beings. When well-purified phages are used, few side effects have been described for all types of administration.

    4 Phages are an ‘intelligent’ drug. They multiply at the site of the infection until there are no more bacteria. Then they are excreted.

    5 Bacteria that have become resistant to a certain type of phage continue to be destroyed by other types.

    6 Phages are found throughout nature. This means that it is easy to find new phages when bacteria become resistant to them.

    7 Evolution drives the rapid emergence of new phages that can destroy bacteria that have become resistant. This means that there should be an ‘inexhaustible’ supply.

    8 Some resistant bacteria that have been selected during treatment with phages are less virulent and can be fought by the immune system.

    9 Phages are also active against bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.

    10 Phages can be genetically modified in order to make up for some of their disadvantages.

    11 Individual components of phages (e.g. lysins) can also be used as antibiotic substances. So far resistances have not occurred despite comprehensive testing

  4. Hi cave76,

    I can see you've done a lot of homework here to learn more about this - thank you for all your comments.

    I'll have more to say about your comments on phage therapy and upcoming research, but probably later this week. I'm feeling pretty sick today, so my ability to post or comment at length isn't there.

    We'll see how it goes Wednesday.

  5. The Virus That Cures is no longer at Google video. It's now found on youtube here: (the long link is because there are 3 videos on autoplay to see the whole thing). Excellent information -- thank you!!!


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